Thursday, September 22, 2016

On the eve of Spirit Day...

Today I left work, as an educator.

I drove home.

I then went to my daughter's school, as a parent, for Family Night.

I left Family Night feeling disheartened, angry, and sad. But I also left hopeful.

Tomorrow I go to work, as an educator, on Spirit Day. And it makes me thankful and hopeful...

During my daughter's Family Night I went to a session entitled "Social media and your child" with the hopes of hearing about ways the school would be using social media to teach, connect, and communicate. Instead I got the opposite.

Granted, it was a tough room. 3 teachers, a tech coordinator, and a parent. And me. I don't think they were prepared to be outnumbered...

Their whole presentation was geared around "safety" which essentially broke down to limiting students access to technology, both at school and at home.

I mentioned the benefits of Twitter and how I've used it in multiple schools, both in New York City, and outside.

That didn't go over well.

There will be a longer blog post. There will. There were too many "but that's how I learned so I want my child to learn that way" and "I'm traditional and I teach in a traditional manner" and "they'll learn it on their own when they're ready" comments to go over here and now.

While I'm disheartened, angry, and sad about the "we're teaching the way we learned" vibe I got from my daughter's school I'm hopeful because of where I work.

I'm hopeful because my colleagues are impressive. I walked in to the building two years ago and suggested things like Twitter and pushing the limits of Google Drive and technology use. I didn't get brushed off. I didn't get "but that's not how we usually do it" comments. Instead I got "ok, we've never done it that way but we're willing to try..." and "It freaks me out but I trust you, lets give it a shot..." comments.

I work with teachers who are willing to try new things, to push boundaries, to step out of their comfort zones to change the learning and experience for their students. I work with colleagues who are willing to try new things that may be counter to their own experiences, but they are willing because they know our student's experience is vastly different.

And it's not just my school. My colleague's willingness to try new things and push the learning experiences forward for students is pervasive throughout my district. Two years ago there was almost no social media use for sharing student experiences, celebrating their work, and connecting with parents. Last year my school was fully embracing it. This year the entire district is on board...

Social media isn't about likes and followers. It's not even solely about celebrating our students. It is a single example of a broader belief; the belief that we as educators need to do things not as we did when we were in school, but rather as things are happening in the world today, and as things move forward we need to be on the forefront, preparing for tomorrow, not rehashing yesterday.

I am hopeful because I know that one day I will have the ability to send my daughter and son to school in the district where I teach. My daughter and son will be in classes with educators who are willing to try new things, to push boundaries, to step out of comfort zones for the sake of creating the most engaging experience possible for their students.

Tomorrow is Spirit Day. Tomorrow I'll walk in to school hopeful because I know that one day soon my children will be able to experience the awesome that is my colleagues.

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